Wed, September 13, 2006
Vet school being what it is- a powerhouse, a sweatshop, of knowledge, indoctrinating me in the ways of diagnosis and treatment... it is no wonder that a lot of vets end up crazy, unbalanced, and unable to see that they affect the world around them with their energy and mood.
We had a special guest speaker at a lunch time talk this week; he also did a talk in the evening, and I was so impressed I went to both.
His message was simple: a lot of people (not everyone!) that get into work with animals do so because they don't like people; a stunning percentage of vet nurses have been abused or molested. There is a serious lack of self esteem and emotional maturity in the profession. He was describing such vet hospitals full of broken people, like one big dysfunctional family, and I HAVE BEEN THERE! I have worked for the vet that blows up over small things; throws stuff; freaks out... and it's not normal to do that!
He maintained that in order to have a successful practice with a good staff, you have to look out for people with what he calls Emotional intelligence... people who are aware of their own emotions, the emotions of others, and carry enough self confidence to tell the difference and not take constructive criticism as an attack on their person.
Being someone who has done a lot of work over the last 12 years to recover from an abusive childhood, I recognize where I fit into that scheme and am so proud to have risen above a lot of it; I also have the ability to see where other people remain stuck. None of the folks that really could have used that info came to the talk, sadly.
It was inspiring to me to hear someone say that this wholesale divorcing of emotion, intuition and feeling from one's life work is damaging! We are forced to choke down how we feel, and that leads to nothing but a ticking time bomb. A lot of people are messed up in the world today, having been told that their voices are worthless and their feelings invalid- take a look around you at all the neurosis that exist; addiction to things that numb us (cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, food, sex), inattention to daily life aside from routine and TV...
The most hilarous thing he said (and I agree!) is that pets have become little extensions of people's neurosis on leashes. Ha! It's so true. As a vet not only do you have to work with people and like it, you have to be part psychologist too... but this profession only fosters those who can survive this boot camp, and this does not for a feeling and balanced person make!
How do I do it? I do a lot of self reflection. I keep in touch with how I am feeling, and admit to myself my issues if I am flipping out or lethargic and unable to get out of bed to study one more goddam page of crap. I stay close to my friends and my family; I skip classes for sanity; I accept that I will not get A's, I might get B's, and I'm fine with C's. I accept that I love people as much as I love my brother and sister creatures, and that I am a healer for all, not just one. I accept that I cannot do it all, but the only thing I can do safely and successfully is heal myself, keep myself healthy, and do the best I can with everything else. I refuse to lose sight of who I am and the joy and magic I embody, it is not worth it. I refuse to let the love in my heart go. I refuse to play the game that will numb me up and make me less of a person so I can be more of a success. I keep a journal... I stretch... I take time out... I read stuff that has nothing to do with vet school... and I will stay in my circle of friends, because you all mean more to me than any amount of money, success, or ambition.
That is my promise to myself: I will stay rooted in my feelings and emotions, even if it means I cry from the frustration; I will stay connected to the spirit and that swirling feeling of giddy joy that comes when my soul is whole. And I will never ever ever be that vet who forgets that staff are people too, and every bit as important to what I do as my education is/was.